Casuals: Keep connected with your union

The pandemic and the new levels of work intensification it has created has led many to revisit their life and work pattern for 2022.

Many teachers and support staff are choosing to slow down; it may be too early to retire, but they are ready for casual work. The IEU introduced flexible lower membership rates to make it easier for casuals during the pandemic.

After continuous teaching since 1983, English teacher Jane Hall has decided to go casual. She’s still working at the same school she’s always been at, St Francis Xavier’s College in Hamilton near Newcastle, but due to lifestyle issues she’s no longer working full time.

“My husband retired and we were planning to travel. Of course then COVID happened. But I decided to stick with casual work anyway, as it suited where I was at,” Jane said.

“One of the most important decisions I’ve made has been to keep up my IEU membership. I would encourage all casuals to do that.

“During these uncertain, ever-changing times, it’s good to have the security of knowing there’s somewhere to go for advice on things like sick leave. Also staying connected with the your Chapter and participating in some of the Zoom meetings that the union has been running has given me a sense of collegiality and connection that has been very important during COVID.

“For younger members, many of whom start as casuals, that connection is important. The union has been very flexible with its rates for casuals, making it very affordable for them, so it’s definitely worthwhile looking into.”

If you are choosing to work casually for 2022, and potentially longer, consider the following:


Retain your union membership but update us of your casual status so you pay a low annual rate.

If you are new to the profession, working casually means you need to know all your rights at work and obtain assistance to meet your proficiency requirements.

And if you are like Jane, working casually may not exempt you from facing industrial or professional issues.

You must still meet employer contractual and policy obligations and you'll still be affected by pay matters such as overtime (if you are support staff) or booked but cancelled days for teachers, or you may also consider taking on a block and need to sign a contract.

A worst-case scenario involves child protection allegation as you move between schools. This sometimes happen as school staff are accustomed to their patterns of work and classroom behaviour and what may have come naturally to you in your former environment may be an issue in a new school or classroom. Therefore, your union membership is a must. You may need confidential advice and representation. To join or update your membership, visit or speak to the IEU Rep at your school or centre.


Given your days of work may be sporadic, ensureyou update your NESA eTams account of your statusfor the purpose of gaining and maintaining your proficiency.

You'll need to make sure you are still meeting the proficiency requirements, and this includes your professional development hours.

Your union membership is very useful here too as you can access online courses that are NESA accredited.

Working in different schools can often mean you are not getting access to professional development, and this can limit your knowledge of pedagogical issues and practices, especially if you decided to go back to full-time or part-time work.


Keep your knowledge of professional issues up to date. Read academic journals, attend IEU online professional development, read your union publications, and keep a clear record of all the days you work.

Working casually and experiencing extended gaps may mean you break your service with your employer and this can impact your accrued entitlements, and for new teachers, it will mean gaining your proficiency takes longer.

Ultimately, enjoy the slower pace but keep connected to the profession and your union.

Lubna Haddad
Sue Osborne